Love-less Love

Continued from “Brink of Incest”

“My life, so to say, became a stanza of the poem of first love, it’s not that my other affections were any prosaic for they were all penned in passion,” he continued. “Won’t the manifestations of first love and the embodiments of first sex stand apart from the pulsations of heart and the spasms of the body that one might experience in later affairs? And that’s why one should be choosy about the body for the first lay as anyway the reins of love are in the hands of heart. Whatever, with the newfound vision to envision women, I got bogged down by the second sex; the more femininity fascinated me for the contours of womanish curves seemed to outclass the symmetry of geometry, all the more I had a measure of my masculinity. My infatuation for women was such that the inflections of their nuances came to be worth pondering over than the intriguing riders of mathematical theorems. When compared to the feminist ways, which seemed puzzling to my inquisitive mind, the laws of physics appeared commonplace; and so, as I began to grapple with the dynamics of man-women chemistry, the inorganic reactions in the college lab seemed boring. Either compelled by my ardent manner or affected by my sex appeal and/or both, I’m not sure, women tended to respond to my eagerness in their sensual ways, and insensibly, the coyness of feminine demeanor seemed to shape the manliness of my persona. While the desire I discerned in the female espials made me feel desired as a male, their diffident demeanor in my presence afforded me a sense of conquest. Soon women made me realize that I am a ladies’ man.”

“Self-actualization in the arena of attraction, surely it was.”

“Writer-like again,” he said, and continued, “but as luck would’ve it, for all its promise, my first love ended up as a damp squib; it’s another matter that even as duds have girlfriends these days, in our time, the dashing too had to be content with daydreams. Though No.1 and I didn’t take our eyes off each other for the rest of the year, there was no way I could’ve made advances on her without causing a scandal in the college. Moreover, I loved her enough not to have caused any hurt to her orderly life; maybe had not I left for Ranchi to pursue that futile course in engineering, we would’ve come closer the next year. Whatever, the day before I left the town, I waited for her in the college corridor, hoping to bid her adieu; as she neared me, she stopped instinctively and I paced up to her intuitively. How disappointed she seemed at my impending departure and how elated I was when she Okayed my idea that we stayed in touch through correspondence. But in that moment of ecstasy, I failed to shake her hand, and maybe that lack of courtesy to love didn’t go down well with it, and so it seems, it never gave me another chance to embellish my first love with the touch of my beloved. Yet oblivious of my fate but with the accrued empathy of my father’s farewell tears I told you about, the next morning, I boarded the Howrah Mail with bountiful hope. Though she failed to keep her promise to correspond, yet I wrote to her unceasingly, picturing the love my heart bore for her but to no avail; but her indifference to my missives made no difference to my longing for her that began to wane my interest in studies.”

“And that fetched you a scrape through degree.”

“It feels nice that you have a feel for my plight,” he said reaching out for my hand. “When I returned home for summer recess, there was no way of seeing her as she was wont to stay put at her home, and so dying for a glimpse of her, I spent the best part of my holidays in the mango grove opposite her house; towns were yet to turn into concrete jungles by then, and needless to say, Raju kept me company in my wild goose chase. Next year though, I fared better “not at studies but at her hands’ for she wrote a couple of noncommittal letters, one of which was virtually a thesis on spirituality. Whatever, the following summer, I barged into her house and forced the issue by proposing to her; don’t imagine that I tried to emulate my father, for I didn’t hear about his exploits by then; but how my failure to win her over contrasts with his teenage ability to wed his beloved is another matter. When she said that we could think about crossing the bridge when we come to it, her eavesdropping mother, who was averse to me, I know not why, asked her to clarify her stance, and at that she said that she was confused about the whole thing. Why, it was apparent that while her enamored heart pushed her towards me, her constrained mind tended her to hold on to her widowed mother; and if anything, the tragic death of both her younger brothers later in a road mishap made her more incapable than ever to displease her parent. Oh, how the deaths on the road came to shape the course of my life; when I called on her to console her, as she seemed solaced by the empathy of my soul, I knew that she needed me more than anyone else, and hoped she would realize that in time. That was why, without ever having touched her little finger, I was lovelorn for long; but, when I went to see her as she was moving out of the town to take up a job, she wanted me to return the letters she wrote, of course, at her mother’s bidding. How silly of her for I loved her in spite of her indifference, and how sheepish she looked as I assured her that I was going to shred them anyway; I kept my word but failed to forget her. Of what avail was my unrequited love that only earned me a scrape through degree, I would never know”

“Didn’t Ghalib say, if not undone by love, I would’ve been second to none.”

“What a heady mix sher-shairi and unrequited love make,” he said. “I’ve had its brew to the brim to savor to its dregs but in the end it was this celebration of self-deprecation that had put me off from that. But by then much water had flowed to waste under the bridge of my love-less love and my career course too had headed towards the deserts of failure; so sometime later I sent her, so to say, my letter of resignation, in which I wrote that when I sought her hand, I hoped to be her lover at home and a peer at the workplace, but with my fledgling career leading me nowhere, there was no way I could aspire to lead her to the altar. How I beseeched her to hold my hand of friendship as I had burnt the desires of love in the groins of failures; why not she let my boundless affection for her be the balm of her life.”

“Isn’t it an idealistic proposition impracticable in practice?”

“You would know when I tell you about my platonic relationship with that sweet sixteen cousin of mine,” he continued. “But sadly, my first love’s reply was a backdated letter she herself penned in her mother’s name, warning me to leave her daughter alone; what a merciless blow upon a hapless surrender that I couldn’t even gasp ‘Et tu, Brute’; how could I have for she never showed any signs of like devotion towards me to warrant such a lament. But whither went her innocence; or was it merely a figment of mine own imagination; how I came to value her with a skimpy acquaintance; what was left of it, after all that; didn’t someone say that women’s looks were his only books, and what pretty follies they taught him; why it was her loaded looks that goaded me to plunge into the void of love-less love. As I turned despondent, I felt that I might forget her in time but I would never forgive her meanness, and that’s what I wrote to her; well, in remorse, she asked our common friend to tell me that some devil might’ve possessed her when she penned that impersonated letter, that she was at a loss as to why she failed to tell me that she felt one of her colleagues was better suited than me to be her man, and that she would pray for a better spouse for me.”

“What to make out of her character?”

“I didn’t know about it then and it doesn’t matter now,” he continued. “Some time later, our common friend telephoned me to inform that she was on an official visit to his branch, and that I may like to see her for the old times’ sake that is one last time before her impending marriage. How I vacillated before boarding the train, and when he told at the railway station that she came with her fiancé, I asked him what was his idea in inviting me to see the one to whom I’ve lost in the battle of affection, and he said that one’s balance sheet of life is prepared only near one’s end. Next day, as I crossed her walking in step with her beau, having sighted me from a distance even as her eyes caressed me in wonderment, her feet induced her to fall behind the man she had preferred over me; I thought her misstep had conveyed to me what I wanted her to admit all along. Yet, the irony of the encounter was that, absorbed as I was in espying her, I had no eyes for my rival, and so, I have no idea of the persona of the man who won her favor; whatever, the memory of that misstep lingered on in my mind until that mishap of a recent meeting with her.”

“It’s as well that she didn’t make a misogynist out of you.”

“Thank god for that,” he said and continued with the intriguing character of his No.1. “I heard that all along she and her man were spiritually inclined, and midway their career, they even gave up their jobs and joined some institution devoted to social service. When I came to know that sometime back she was widowed as I called on her, what a cold reception she gave me; how stony she seemed when I announced myself and how that left me clueless about the soul of the woman who made a name as a savior for the needy. Maybe she’s a complex character without a basic character; how else can one explain her behavior towards a man whom she had confused if not wronged; whatever, the moral of the lesson is that it’s futile seeking an update on the past memories for the fear of fouling with them.”

“If you think it’s not inappropriate, why not we review the reality of life over a couple of drinks.”

“Inappropriate my foot,” he said, “it’s just a matter of culture and convention, and they differ; who could decide which culture is right and which convention is wrong? If something is okay with you, it should be appropriate for you, provided you won’t tread on others sensibilities. I too need some drink for I wish to kiss and tell; well, the less inhibited one is the more forthcoming he would be. Don’t mind picking up that Laphroaic for us.”

Continued to “Flights of Heart”


More by :  BS Murthy

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